We, three hundred and six delegates of diverse churches in Europe, gathered in the historical city of Lyon, France, from the 15th till the 21st of July 2009, under the theme "Called to one hope in Christ", on the occasion of the 13th General Assembly and the fiftieth anniversary of the Conference of European Churches, convey this message to the member churches of our ecumenical movement and all of Europe.
One hope in Christ
As Christians we dare to hope. As the letter to the Hebrews affirms, faith is the substance of things hoped for. Hope must be seen as an essential aspect of the Christian faith. Hope gives us joy, peace, courage, boldness and freedom. It liberates us from fear, opens our hearts and strengthens our witness to the Risen Lord. All Christians are called to the one hope in Christ, as a way of love, forgiveness and reconciliation. As Christians, we share our hope in the risen Christ with the communities in which we live and to which we belong. The Charta Oecumenica is the basis for our engagement ecumenically and with society.
The Serbian Orthodox Church, as the host and the owner of one great orthodox sanctuary, a monastery of St. Prohor Pcinjski, decided, on behalf of regional Diocese of Vranje as well as on behalf of the Holy Synod of Bishops and on the suggestion of His Grace Bishop Irinej of Bachka, the member of the Holy Synod and the official representative of the Diocese of Vranje regarding the issue of the celebration of the feast of the Holy Prophet Elijah (Ilindan) at the monastery of St. Prohor Pcinjski - to honestly, warmly, brotherly, without any hidden thoughts, provide hospitality and more than that, brotherly reception for the high delegation of the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia on the 65th anniversary of ASNOM on the the feast of the Holy Prophet Elijah of this year.
"Called to One Hope in Christ", the 13th Assembly of the Conference of European Churches, meets in the context of a Europe which is becoming increasingly diverse religiously, ethnically and linguistically. There are many positive consequences of this but there are also real concerns that human relationships are under strain and human freedoms are being restricted. These include growing misunderstandings between religious communities, religious discrimination and violation of religious freedom.
The last day of the session of the 13th Assembly of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) in Lyon, members of the Central Committee, the most important part of the CEC, were elected by secret voting. Thanks to the effort of our delegation , the SOC got two places in this Committee, where in nest 6 years, will directly decide in bringing decisions of this European organization. His Grace Bishop Grigorije of Zahumlje and Hercegovina and Julija Vidovic, Th.D. in Paris, were elected as the members of the Committee of the CEC.
Furthermore, the SOC delegation managed to explicitly add in the official public document of the Assembly of the CEC an issue of violating human rights of believers of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo and Metohija, especially in the field of religious freedoms.
Of the 300 delegates, 41 are young people. 170 delegates are male, and 130 are female. 109 are lay people and 191 are ordained. There are 25 delegates who are black or from a minority ethnic group, or who are representing a migrant church.
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Fourth of July is a day when we join with people across this nation and around the world in the celebration of an historic achievement that exalted the necessity of human freedom and initiated a political and social environment filled with opportunity and potential. The United States of America, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, was "conceived in liberty," dedicated to the ideal of justice and equality for all, thus becoming a nation that broadened the scope and function of citizenship and of the meaning of belonging and community.